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Google to release new AI tool to identify skin conditions

Google plans to release a new tool later this year that will use artificial intelligence to help users identify problems with their skin, hair and nails, the company said Tuesday during its annual developer conference.

The innovation will compete against one of the most lucrative specialties in the industry.

“As a doctor, I often see patients when it’s too late,” said Dr. Peggy Bui, the product lead and an internal medicine doctor.

The AI is not meant to replace a doctor, she said, but to inform users and encourage them to see a doctor when needed. The company decided to develop the AI dermatology tool after seeing how many people were searching online for answers, Bui said.

“Every day, we see millions of people turning to Google to research their skin conditions,” Bui said.

As many as one in three Americans has a skin condition at any given time, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. In 2019, $7.8 billion was spent on dermatologies, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

To use the tool, patients will upload three photos of the affected area, then answer questions about their skin type and symptoms. The AI model will analyze that information and will provide a list of possible matching conditions out of a pool of 288 conditions, Google said.

The tool took three years to develop, and the AI was developed using data from 65,000 images of diagnosed skin conditions, skin concerns and healthy skin representing people of difference ages, sexes, races and skin types.

The product has been certified as a Class 1 medical device in Europe but is not yet available in the U.S. Its use was demonstrated Tuesday during the Google I/O conference. A pilot launch is expected later this year.


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